Education Matters

To share with you the story of my life, let me begin with my brief introduction. My name is Najeeb ur Rehman and I have devoted thirty five years of my life at various levels in the corporate sector - mainly in the supply chain. I have been a student of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa’s top most educational centers; I did my matriculation from Cantt Public High School (Nowshera) and moved on to Edwardes College and then completed by Masters in Physics  from Peshawar University.

My career started off as a Hostel Warden in the early 80’s and as a teacher of Physics at Edwardes’ College. This indeed, was an immense experience as it helped me harness my understanding of the science of Physics that in turn helped develop logical thinking and sharpened my communication skills, while providing me an opportunity to study various other subjects through regular use of the library facilities.

Peshawar in those early years was considered a beautiful and peaceful city and was home to the USIS (American Center) and the British Council libraries. In those days, knowledge was the greed of every man and these libraries used to be filled with those knowledge seekers.

In 1982, while I was still teaching Physics, I was selected by the German Chemical and Pharmaceutical giant -Hoechst Pakistan Limited, through and probably the only head hunting firm of its time, Karim Marler and Associates, as a Management Trainee based in Karachi. It was a two year program that provided me with an opportunity to learn various business and management skills beyond the frontiers of science. I received training and exposure to Human Resources, Pharmaceuticals, Agricultural and Industrial Marketing as well as in Project Management through on the job training and assignments to plan, design and install the first drip irrigation system in Pakistan.

Then came the giant of the corporate sector of Pakistan - Pakistan Tobacco Company. It was then a big name and continues to attract the new generation even today. Its glamour and association with cricket attracted me too. I applied for a Management Trainee program and was lucky to be selected. I thus joined PTC at its Karachi Factory on May 2nd , 1983, in the Manufacturing Department and learned about manufacturing process, productivity, material and man - management.

During my career, I worked for almost fifteen years  at PTC factories, managing the supply chain that included activities like; procurement, logistics/ transportation of materials and warehouses. It also includedsupplier and  inventory management including materials, requirement planning and operations planning. I also managed manufacturing at PTC outside contract manufacturing facilities as well as its printing unit. However, until the 80s, the supply chains, as well as organizations and businesses, were compartmentalized and worked in silos.

In the early 90s, emergence of information technology and other media platforms created greater consumer/ customer awareness and consequently an environment of fiercer struggle for competitive edge. Thanks to the invention of the microchips, new IT business suites provided an enabling environment and ERP became a buzzword. The ERP software actually helped revolutionize the supply chains by providing on-time and real time information with a higher degree of inventory and data accuracy that enabled faster and accurate decision making in an integrated organization.

PTC, experiencing serious cost pressures in a bid to remain competitive decided to implement ERP across the entire business spectrum, that is, across its supply chain stretching from the farm where tobacco was grown to the consumer - encompassing the entire manufacturing activity. Since I had work experience at multi- sites and cross functionally too, the company picked me as project lead for implementation of the ERP Project as lead implementer. I led this stream and helped the company with class "A" on the Oliver Wight international benchmark system called MRP11 or Manufacturing Resource Planning.

The concept of Just In Time ( JIT) led PTC and its principal company, British American Tobacco,  to embark on an aggressive program of supplier development with an intention to help suppliers reduce their costs through improving productivity, adherence to laws including labor laws, product integrity, quality and traceability as well as that  environment, health and safety with an underlying policy philosophy of continuous improvement - all these factors critical to long term sustainability of organizations. I was part of this Team and also led supplier's reviews in the UK/ Europe, Asia Pacific as well as in Pakistan.

The quest for integration through effective use of the ERP system also encompassed and emphasized the need for an integrated approach to supply chain as it was thought that without a well-integrated, well harmonized supply chain, to realize the benefits and achieve efficiencies across the chain extended from suppliers' suppliers to customers' customers - an extended enterprise could not be achieved. Accordingly, PTC aligned its supply chain to the international benchmark using the SCOR model (Supply Chain Organization Reference Model) that envisages a supply chain as: PLAN (supply chain planning process), MAKE (manufacturing process), SOURCE (procurement process) and DELIVER (distribution process). The planning process calls for collaborative planning, encompassing operations or factory planning, material and man - power planning as well as financial planning;  ; sourcing includes identification and development of sources of supply, working closely with suppliers to ensure that the material plans are met, negotiation of rates/ prices, on -time delivery etc.; deliver is to ensure availability of product in the distribution network to fulfill demand.

Having been part of the transformation of the supply chain, I have seen and experienced and believe that an efficient supply chain, well integrated and well executed gives an organization a definite competitive edge. Therefore, a career in supply chain is not only interesting but also immensely satisfying and by virtue of being widely diversified and specialized makes one a sound manager. Experienced Supply chain managers are in great demand in industry and other businesses, whether it is planning, procurement or distribution or an overall supply chain related job and it will always remain so. With reference to Pakistan, a career in supply chain with reference to CPEC will herald new and great opportunities. As such, interesting times ahead for supply chain professionals and qualified people.

The three decade experience in various areas of supply chain enabled me to manage diversified roles post retirement at senior levels. I have worked as Director IT for Rehman Medical Hospital, managing a complex hospital IT systems as well as in working as Director Procurement for the British Council. I also have had the opportunity of helping British American Tobacco South Korea with their supply chain in the startup of their operations. My supply chain knowledge was instrumental in helping me teach supply chain and ERP at MSc Engineering/ PhD level at Centre for Advanced Studies in Engineering ( CASE, Islamabad) as a visiting faculty and in selection as Commercial Counsellor to Lagos, Nigeria in a competitive examination organized through LUMS by the Government of Pakistan.

 

Sincerely,

Najeeb ur Rehman



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